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USA Today takes down tweet comparing United Passenger to Rosa Parks after backlash

The USA Today tweet got my attention. It read “Is United Airlines passenger Dr. Dao an “Asian version of Rosa Parks?”

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As a reporter, I knew they were quoting someone who made that statement.  My relatives who are not journalists thought USA Today was making the comparison between Dr. Dao and civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

It appears they were not the only ones, because USA Today immediately faced backlash on Twitter.  One tweet read “Point out the lady or gentleman who gave the thumbs up on this article.” Another tweet posted “Congratulations, this by far, the most ignorant headline of the week.”

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USA TODAY HEADLINE TOLD THE STORY, TWEET WAS UNCLEAR

The USA TODAY headline on its website read “United passenger’s lawyer says he’s gotten emails comparing client to Rosa Parks.”  Now that should have been the tweet. 

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USA Today chose not to use the same headline that was on their website, a decision that does not make sense. It could have been shortened, made the story crystal clear and avoided criticism.

AVOID WHAT MAY APPEAR TO BE CLICK-BAIT TWEETS

Today we want everyone to click into our stories because competition is tough. And I know that writing interesting and sometimes bizarre headlines can attract readers.

Let us not forget that many people make up their minds and quickly over one tweet without ever clicking into the story.  That’s why it is important to be clear and informative in 140 characters.

A reader will give you one chance and you can blow it in one tweet.

USA Today corrected its mistake. As I was writing this blog, I noticed it took down the original tweet and replaced it with a new tweet that makes more sense ” United passenger’s lawyer says he’s gotten emails comparing his client to Rosa Parks:”

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As I say over and over “Think before you tweet.”

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The United Airlines PR nightmare that could have been avoided

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United Airlines has made a lot of mistakes and now it finds itself in a big PR nightmare. The proof ended up on a video that went viral and passengers left in shock.

HOW IT STARTED

United had an overbooked flight from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday. Why do airlines oversell flights?

United needed four seats for four employees who were flying on standby. How come they get priority over passengers who already dished out money for a ticket?

United offered up to 800 dollars in travel vouchers to passengers if someone would give up their seat. No takers. Why didn’t the airline offer more money? Everyone has a price.

United decided to randomly pick passengers off the flight when no one gave up their seat. Three passengers were apparently fine with it but one man was not.  He said he was a doctor who insisted he had to go home.  How did the airline randomly pick passengers?

When the man would not leave, the airline called in airport officers who forcibly dragged the man out of his seat. It was a violent scene. The passenger hit his face on an arm rest and started bleeding. Why were the officers rough with him?

While some passengers were recording video on their phones, others were left in shock and in tears. Who is going to help the passengers now dealing with their own trauma?

Audra Bridges caught everything on video.

UNITED’S CEO RELEASES STATEMENT THAT MADE THINGS WORSE

Problems continued when United’s CEO Oscar Munoz came out with a statement that sounded like a pity party for the airline. He called the situation an “upsetting event” for United.  Did he hear the passenger’s outcry as they dragged the man down the aisle? Did he see the passenger’s bloody face? Now that’s upsetting.

The CEO apologized for “having to re-accommodate”  customers.”  Dragging a man in an airplane is the CEO’s version of re-accommodate?

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CNN reported Monday that one of the officers has been placed on suspension. Why weren’t all the officers put on leave?

United’s CEO says the matter is being reviewed. Too late, the damage is done.

My advice to CEO Oscar Munoz is get a better PR team and find the doctor, apologize in person and offer him and his family flights for LIFE.

It’s a start.

Sources: New York Times, CNBC,